Romans 8:1-27 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine, and we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.
So good to see your faces tonight. So glad you could come to church. Way to go in the middle of the week to gather for fellowship, to gather for a spiritual meal, to gather for encouragement. I still don't like the fact that we can't hug. Well, they say we can't hug, but-- but can't wait till we can.
Romans chapter 8. Father, we want to thank you for the opportunity to gather to look at your word, to apply it to our hearts. We find that we are in a very unique time, but we also find, Lord, that we are in a unique setting, where we as a church regularly gather to go verse by verse, chapter by chapter, through every book of the Bible. It's an opportunity that most in the world either don't have or don't take advantage of. So we consider ourselves blessed that we have the time afforded to us or intentioned by us to make sure that we dig deep and make application of these truths to our lives.
We pray that you will strengthen us. We pray that you will direct us. You know the issues that we deal with. You know the direction that we're looking for from you, the strength that we need to serve you, the discernment the health all our needs. And we're so grateful, Lord, that we can roll them over onto you, and you will provide. In Jesus' name, Amen.
On January 1, 1863, the President of the United States then, Abraham Lincoln, signed an edict proclaiming that the slaves in the Confederate states were free. What he signed was called the Emancipation Proclamation. 2,000 years ago, God signed our Emancipation Proclamation on a cross just outside of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem when His son went to die for our sins.
We who were slaves of sin. Anyone, anyone who would be born a slave of sin and would desire freedom, emancipation, could have it from that moment onward. The edict was signed by blood. Romans chapter 8 I said was a chapter that I have been waiting to get to because it is one of the greatest chapters in all of holy writ, in all of scripture. It is what one guy called-- remember, I talked this weekend about all dead guys. So here's another quote of an old dead guy, Griffith Thomas, a name not many know, but he was really responsible, he and a couple other guys for Dallas Theological Seminary. He ran around with the likes of DL Moody and wrote on theology, et cetera.
He said Romans chapter 8 is the chapter of chapters for the believer. I suppose if scripture were a golden ring, that the Book of Romans would be the diamond on that golden ring. And Romans chapter 8 would be the sparkle on the diamond of that golden ring.
It's a chapter that if you spend any time at all reading through the book of Romans you have come to dearly love. By God's grace, I'm going to attempt to go through just this one chapter tonight. You've heard me make promises like that before, and I've been unable to fulfill them, but we're going to give it a try.
One of the reasons we love this chapter is how it begins and how it ends, and everything in between just adds to it. It begins with no condemnation. It ends with no separation. We have no condemnation before God. We can't be separated from the love of God.
No condemnation, that's one bookend. No separation, that's the other bookend. So verse 1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." And then verse 38-- don't worry. I'm going to go back and read the other verses.
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." No condemnation, no separation.
Though the chapter begins, "There is therefore now no condemnation," the therefore takes us back a few verses. And the thought really begins around verse 22, but I'm just going to have you look at verse 24, just to give you a contrast because chapter 7 was a pretty miserable chapter. Really is. It's just like, man, he's painting a dark picture of himself, of humanity.
So he says in verse 24, "Oh wretched man that I am." What a statement. "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" It's as if Paul is carrying around a dead rotting carcass strapped to his back, what he refers to as the body of death, his old nature, the nature he was born with, the nature that is separated from God, the nature that every believer still has that fights his new nature. "Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?" That sort of sums up-- that's sort of the pinnacle remark of chapter 7.
Chapter is filled with desperation. It's filled with defeat. And no sooner did he ask that question than he answers the question. "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Verse 25 is the answer to that question. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." That's the answer. I'm a wretched man, who will deliver me? Jesus Christ our Lord will deliver you. He's the one.
And then, "There is therefore now no condemnation." Just a little bit of a review. Go back a few verses in chapter 7 and look at verse 15. If you remember last week, I mentioned that Paul, the apostle, uses about 47 personal pronouns in chapter 7, I, me, mine. He's very, very self-focused.
Verse 15, I'll emphasize them. "For what I am doing I do not understand for what I will to do that I do not practice, but what I hate I do. If then I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, nothing good dwells for to will is present with me but how to perform what is good, I do not find. For the good that I will to do I do not do." And so it goes.
This guy has an I disease, I, I, I, I. He has an overdose of vitamin I, very, very self-focused. As we mentioned last time, Paul is being very honest about the struggle that he himself had with the old nature that we all have. So chapter 7, especially with that pinnacle verse of verse 24 becomes one of the most depressing sections of scripture that exists, especially in the book of Romans.
Chapter 7 is all about the chains of bondage, the slavery that we have to the past. But in chapter 8, you hear those chains falling down. They break. And right out of the gate, he begins. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
The literal way to write verse 1 would be "There is therefore now not one condemnation." It's not great English, but it's great theology. There's not one ounce of condemnation that can be leveled against the child of God whose slate has been wiped clean through Jesus Christ our Lord, our great emancipator. No condemnation.
Now, what you should do is after Jesus, where there is a comma in my Bible and probably yours if you have my translation, the New King James, where it has a comma, you should put a period, not a comma. Because the verse really ends there.
The second part of the verse some of us don't believe belongs there. I include it. I think the way it read in the original that Paul penned, the original letter to the Romans is this. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus," period. I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking, well, then why is that second part there? "Who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." You're wondering why is it there. Are you wondering that? Good. You should be wondering it.
And I'm glad you asked because the answer for you is found in verse 4, "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." It's the same little phrase.
So what we believe happened is that it was originally written, "There's therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus," period. And then Paul kept writing, and he got to verse 4, and he wrote legitimately that in verse 4, "Who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
But in ancient times, they didn't have Microsoft Word. They couldn't highlight a verse and copy it and paste it. So they had to write or copy every manuscript by hand, and it would seem the way it is believed is that a scribe took the end of verse 4 and wrote in the margin on the side like a footnote, "who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" in the margin of verse 1 to show the reader that there is a relationship between those who are not condemned in verse 1 and those who walk according to the Spirit in verse 4, that he's describing the same person. So he wrote that in the margin.
And then later on, since there still wasn't Microsoft Word, and you couldn't highlight, copy, and paste, but you had to write everything by hand, that another scribe in seeing the note in the margins thought, oh, somebody left it out when it should be in verse 1, so included it in verse 1. Now you're wondering, well, how do you know that? You could have just made that up.
We know that because we have, collectively, humanity has found older manuscripts. And the older manuscripts, none of them have that second part in verse 1. All of them say, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus," period.
And it's important that you make the distinction because if you keep that little phrase in, you're going to be looking inward. And you're going to be wondering, well, there's no condemnation if I'm walking in the Spirit? But four hours ago, I didn't walk in the Spirit when I gave that guy who cut in front of me that sign. I shouldn't have. I know I shouldn't have, but I did it.
So maybe there's no condemnation for me because of what happened four hours ago. You know how it is. We're up and down. So you're going to be looking inward. But if you omit that phrase, you're not going to be looking inward. You're going to be looking upward. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus," period. Are you in Christ? No condemnation.
So that's why it's important to make note of that. Probably that was added by a scribe later on because older manuscripts don't include that, "Those who work according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
Now I know I'm still in verse 1, but bear with me. Notice what it doesn't say. It doesn't say, "There is therefore now no failure for those who are in Christ Jesus." Well, that's not true because four hours ago, you failed when that guy pulled out in front of you.
It doesn't say there's no mistakes for those who are in Christ Jesus, nor does it say there is therefore now no consequence for those who are in Christ Jesus because you could do something, you could sin in a certain area and bear a temporal consequence for it. It says, "There's therefore now no condemnation." That is judgment. It's a very strong word for judgment.
There is no strong divine judgment for those who are in Christ Jesus. Yes, the believer will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the reward seat, the Bema seat of Christ, and receive a reward for things done in the body, Paul said. Yes, there are consequences for unbelievers, who will be judged and condemned before God because they didn't let Jesus take their sin.
But for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, judgment's over man. Judgment's passed, past tense. In John chapter 5, Jesus said these words, "Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears my words and believes in Him who sent me."
Let me ask you a question. Have you heard the words of Jesus? Yes. Do you believe in Jesus and the one that Jesus was sent by? Yes. OK, so this is now for you.
"He who hears my words and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life," has it, not will have it, has it right now, present tense, "and shall not come into judgment but has passed from death into life." Judgment's over.
There's a horrible phrase I sometimes hear believers use. Something bad will happen, something unfortunate will happen, life takes a turn, and they'll say, God's punishing me. I've got this sickness, God must be punishing me, or this happened to me. It's because God's punishing me.
God's not punishing you. God punished Christ for you, so that you never have to be punished or condemned. That's past tense. "There is therefore now not one condemnation, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Well, we made it through one verse.
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin. He condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us," not by us, "in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
Remember all those personal pronouns in the previous chapter? I, me, my, 47 of them. They're absent in this section, and in their place is a reference to the Spirit, capital S, Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit up until now is mentioned twice in the entire book of Romans.
In this section, the Holy Spirit is mentioned or referred to 20 times. So you're starting now to see the contrast. Here's me struggling, working hard, I, I, me, me, my, my. Now there's no condemnation, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit.
Now we have a new capacity because of the Holy Spirit, and now we understand what Jesus meant when he said to his disciples who were all bent out of shape that Jesus would be leaving them. No, you can't leave us. You just said you were going to leave us, and He goes it is to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go, I can't send the Holy Spirit. But if I go, I will send the Holy Spirit to you.
And Jesus went on to describe the glorious work of the Holy Spirit bringing things to remembrance, empowering us for service. So it's to our advantage. Now, Paul is tapping into that advantage. As he says, law of the Spirit, capital S. And verse 4, "Not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit," capital S. That is the Holy Spirit.
Now I have to unravel something for you because it can be a little bit mystifying. In verses, two, three, and four, Paul uses the term law-- notice it in your Bibles. But he uses it in two different ways. But he means two different things by it.
So when we think of law, we think of something that is a dictate, a regulation, a regulatory principle, a legal regulatory principle. Like you can't go over the speed limit. There's a law. You can't do this. There's a law. Or we think of it in terms of the law of Moses. You shall do this, you shall not do this, all of the stipulations written in legal parlance.
But there's another way in which the word law is used, and that is it means principal or driving force or that which motivates or controls. So in verse 2, he says, "The law of the Spirit." That's not the law of Moses. That's not a legal mandate, a legal requirement. He's speaking here about the driving principle.
"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death," the driving principle of sin and death. So we speak of the law of gravity. It doesn't mean that the United States Constitution wrote gravity into law and therefore gravity exists because it's one of the laws in our country. Not that kind of law. It's a principle.
Or we speak of Coulomb's law of electrostatic or electromagnetic force or we speak of the law of self-preservation. We mean something different by that, right?
So there is an impulse in us naturally, a principle that drives us to do wrong. But now, now by the Holy Spirit, there's an impulse, a principle, that drives us to do right. That's the idea of the law.
But it's used a second way. And that is in verse 3, he's speaking now of the law of Moses, what we know as the Old Testament law. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh God did by sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh. On account of sin, He condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous requirements of the law," that is the law of Moses, "might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
So God gave a law, but the law couldn't fix me. Like he said in the previous chapter, the problem wasn't with the law. The problem was with me. And somebody said, amen, right? The problem is with you, Skip, and she's right. It is.
So the law is spiritual. But Paul said, I am carnal. I am fleshly. I'm not as spiritual. So the law was unable to fix me. The law could point out I had a problem. The law, like a mirror, could point out I'm dirty, but the law cannot cleanse what I see, can't fix me.
God made that apparent even from the beginning. When the children of Israel-- when Moses said, I'm going to go up and I'm going to hear from God, the children of Israel who did not want to get near that mountain because of the lightning and the thunder and the noise, they said, yeah, Mo, you go. You go, go, buddy. Go up there. We're not coming near. You go up, and you listen to God, and you tell us what God says, and you come back down and give us the word. And whatever God tells us we will do.
That's what they said, famous last words. And God responded, and said oh, that my people had such a heart to obey. God recognized they couldn't do it. They wouldn't be able to do it. He was giving the law as a standard whereby we have a standard of reference that shows us how far we fall, but it can't fix us.
It was temporary. Yes, there were sacrifices that covered over the issue, covered over sin, dealt with it on a temporary basis, until the fullness of the time, Galatians 4:4, when God would send His own Son.
Verse 5, "For those who live according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh. But those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit, for to be carnally minded," fleshly minded, only thinking of gratifying your flesh, "to be carnally minded is death. To be spiritually minded is life and peace, because the carnal mind," the fleshly mind, the old you, the old man, the unregenerate self, "the carnal mind is enmity or hostile against God for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
That's a pretty good description of you and me BC, before Christ. Before we were saved, we lived with the mind on the flesh, to gratify fleshly desires, to gratify ourselves. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said don't worry about what you're going to eat, what you're going to drink, what you're going to wear, "For after all these things the Gentiles seek."
That's how the unbelieving world lives. It only lives to fulfill fleshly desires. Now, you have certain biological drives, what they call primary biological drives and secondary drives. Among your primary drives is you have the air drive, the need to breathe. And when you breathe, you oxygenate your bloodstream. So you have that basic drive. You're underwater for a while, you got to get up because you got to do that, got to bring oxygen to those cells.
You also have the drive for water. You have to keep hydrated. Otherwise, because your body is so much water, you'll die without it. You also have a drive to eat, a food drive, which replenishes energy for your cells in your body, helps you grow.
You have a sex drive. God put that drive within all of us, so that you can have posterity. You have future generations. All of those things drive biologically a human being. Nothing wrong with them.
But if those things control you, they can be problematic. If the sex drive controls you, if you live only for sexual experiences or only culinary experiences, or your desire to drink causes you to imbibe substances that are detrimental to you over a long haul, they can be problematic.
We talked last week about body, soul, and spirit and having the mind, the soul dominated either by this Spirit or by the flesh. He's just continuing on that and explaining that a bit further. "So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God, but--" now this is the new you. That's the old you. That's you BC, before Christ. "But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit if indeed the Holy Spirit of God or the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His."
When you say yes to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes within you. "And if Christ is in you, the body is dead," the flesh, the fleshly control, the body control. You don't have to be controlled by the old impulses anymore. "If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."
Now things have changed. Now you live differently. Now you think differently. Now you want to please God. You want to serve God.
Man, I remember that as one of the first indications that my life was changing. I didn't want to go to church before I was saved. I had to go to church. And when I was a teenager, I would go to church stoned, high just to get through it. I would tell my friends I saw the priest fly up in the room with all the altar boys and kind of float. It was a spiritual experience. But it was brought on not by the Holy Spirit but by the unholy Spirit of lysergic acid diethylamid, LSD.
But suddenly, I gave my life to Christ, and I remember the afternoon that I did that. And all of a sudden, I remember having the impulse, I got to get to church. I know of this church. I was up in San Jose. I know of this crazy church down in SoCal called Calvary Chapel. I'm going to go there. All my friends were going there.
All of a sudden, I wanted to read the Bible. I didn't want to read the Bible before. I wouldn't have understood it had I tried to read it. But I had such a craving for it. So I think differently.
We think and live differently. We have a new desire, but also not only a desire. We have a capability, a capacity put within us by the Holy Spirit to do that which we desire. We desire what we desire now in Christ because he put that desire in us. He put that desire in us so that he might fulfill that desire in us by giving us the Holy Spirit.
So we have new desires to please Him, to serve Him, and a new capacity to do those things. So you kind of mix all these things. There's no condemnation. You add the no condemnation to the Holy Spirit's invigoration, and that spells life transformation, total change by the Holy Spirit. And he's making that evident, that this is what should be in every child of God, controlled by the Spirit. If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Somebody once said, "If your religion doesn't change you, then you should change your religion." Wise thinking. I've always believed this. I've always had this is my religion. Really, has it really helped you or done any good? Because if not, you may want to think about switching.
And you'll find that Jesus, unlike a religion, gives you the capacity to serve Him, love Him, be changed by Him, walk in Him, enjoy Him. And he puts the Holy Spirit within you to do that. He makes you holy.
By the way, that's the purpose of the Holy Spirit living in you. Well, why is there a Holy Spirit? To make you holy. Wait a minute. I thought God's job was to make me happy.
No, that's not his job. The purpose of the Spirit is to make you holy. But I guarantee you, when you're holy, you'll be happy. Best quickest way to happiness is holiness. Live to serve and please God, you'll be the happiest person in town.
Well, it gets better. "Therefore brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh. To live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you will die. But if by the Spirit, you put to death--" the old word was mortify. I'll get to that. "If you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
Paul is simply saying, look, you have no obligation to your old self, to your sinful fallen nature, even though it wants you to know it's there and demand that you do something for it every day. Your old nature will say, what about me? What about my needs? Feed me, feed me, feed me. You don't owe it anything.
However, you do have a responsibility and an accountability to the Holy Spirit who lives in you and is working in you. He was the one that led you to Jesus Christ for salvation. You're a child of God because of his work.
So you owe the old nature nothing, the flesh nothing. But we do have a responsibility, what you might say an obligation, to the Holy Spirit. Now, here's how it works. And I think you've discovered this to be true.
We are either progressing in our relationship with Christ, or we are regressing. I've discovered that following Jesus is sort of like riding a bicycle uphill. When I stop pedaling, I go back. So stay at it, just one foot in front of the other. Keep going. Keep walking in the Lord.
There was an old Native American gentleman who was trying to describe after he came to Christ what it was like living after the Spirit but also having the flesh. And he said, "I have two dogs living inside of me, a little one and a big one. And they're always fighting each other." And his friend said, "Well, huh, which one wins?" The old gentleman said, "Whichever one I feed."
The little one, he meant the spiritual life. The big one had been there a long time. That's his sinful flesh. But if you feed the Spirit, then essentially you're starving the flesh. If you feed the flesh, you starve the Spirit. So feed the Spirit. It'll win. You'll find more spiritual dominance than fleshly dominance in your life.
You know, it's also like this. Our spiritual lives are like planting a flower garden. If you want beautiful flowers, you have to do a little gardening work, right? You have to use the right fertilizer, the right kind of soil, right kind of conditions of the soil, the right temperatures to get them to grow right.
Now, a weed, on the other hand, you don't have to worry about. You never have to plant a weed. You don't have to cultivate a weed. You don't have to really try to get it to grow. All you got to do is walk away. It grows naturally.
Your old nature grows naturally. We were by nature the children of wrath, even as others, Paul said in Ephesians 2. It's our nature. That's what grows naturally, the old you, that big dog barking. So feed the Spirit because you don't owe the flesh anything. You have no obligation whatsoever.
So he says, put it to death. The old theologians called it mortifying the flesh. That's sort of a Puritan term based on this language of Paul in the Old King James version. Put it to death, mortify it, kill it.
If you are struggling with areas of your old nature, and you're saying, well, you know, I've been dealing with this for a long time. And so I'm going to cut back on those activities. I'm going to do it less. You'll never win. You have to starve it.
You have to close the door, lock it, walk away from it, and feed the Spirit. That's the key to victory. Starve that puppy that is barking. Let it die.
"For as many," verse 14, "as are led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God, children of God, sons and daughters of God. For you did not receive the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God."
Notice how the language changes, sons of God, adoption, children of God. The term adoption is a very important New Testament term. Paul uses it five times in his writings. And it means to be placed as an adult son or an adult child.
In the Roman world, adoption had interesting ramifications. If you were adopted into a Roman family, you immediately, as the adopted son, lost all of the rights and privileges and debts of your previous family. And you were given all the rights and privileges in the new family.
In fact, you have the same right as an adopted child as a natural born child in a Roman household. You even became a co-heir when there were inheritance laws or land passed out. If the children would inherit an estate, the adopted child would get as much as the natural born child.
So we became children of God. We were born again. Jesus uses that language. Paul uses the language of adoption, placed as adult sons. So we've received the Spirit of adoption, verse 15, by whom we cry Abba, Father. That's in Aramaic term, but also a Hebrew term, Abba. If you go to Israel, you will hear that frequently in the street.
In fact, if you're in Jerusalem, you'll hear these little kids crying out, and you'll go, I know what that word is. It's because you've read your Bible. You know Romans. It's like, Abba, which is Daddy, Father. Now that's how Jesus taught us to pray to God. He said, when you pray, say our Father.
It's very different from Jews before Jesus. Rabbis before Jesus never taught their Talmudene, their students, to have personal relationship with God in heaven. It was very formal. It was very distant. It was very remote. God was put off by that.
And so when they pray, they didn't even call God God. They didn't call Him by His name, Yahweh. What they did-- you'll still hear it today in the orthodox community. They will refer to the Lord or God as Hashem, Hashem. Hashem is Hebrew for the name. So when you want to talk about God, you say the name said this, the name did that.
How different from when you pray say our Father, Daddy, Abba. So intimate, so different. And the Jews when they pray, it's very, very formal. I've told you before, the typical Jewish prayer-- [SPEAKING HEBREW] Blessed are You, Lord God, King of the universe. It's recognizing sovereignty. It's recognizing deity. It's recognizing control and immensity but not intimacy.
You want intimacy, you do this, Abba, Father. Well, we've been adopted. So before you came to Christ, the relationship you had with God was a Hashem relation, [SPEAKING HEBREW] relationship. There was God and human.
But now the relationship has changed. In Christ, you're adopted into the family. So it's not God and human. It's Father, child, son or daughter of the living God. What a privilege. We cry, Abba, Father. "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." There's that Roman adoption idea.
"If indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified together, for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Let me translate that idea for you.
Everything Jesus received by divine right, you and I have received by divine grace. You could study that the rest of your life. Everything Jesus has received by divine right as the unique son of God, you and I have received by divine grace, as adopted sons and daughters of God. That includes glory, future glory. Even though we suffer temporarily, as he said, "I consider the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us."
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul said, "For our light affliction, which is for a moment," will become far exceeding an eternal weight of glory. So here we are. We have this affliction. Paul says it's a light affliction. Oh, you don't know my affliction. It's pretty heavy.
Well, Paul got beat up a whole bunch and beheaded eventually. That's pretty heavy, right? Probably harder than yours. So he called it a light affliction, but he said it's going to work an eternal weight of glory.
So when you put our suffering and His glory that we're going to also experience on a scale, that's the idea of this verse. Eternal eight or glory. Or the 2 Corinthians 4 verse that I quoted, not this verse. But sort of like this verse, "it's not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us." Verse 19, "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God, for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope. Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, for we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now."
Now notice some of the wording in these verses that we just read, verse 18 sufferings, verse 20 futility, verse 21 bondage of corruption. When God created the world, the universe, what did he say after he made it? He looked at it and said what? It's good.
But it didn't stay good. What was good experienced a fall. Sin was introduced because a serpent, Satan, enticed the humans, the first humans to disobey God. And Paul put it in Romans 5, "By one man's sin entered the world and death through sin and death spread to all men because all have sinned."
Now, that's not creations fault. That was Adam's fault. But the creation was subjected to futility, to emptiness, to the curse. And Paul says it groans. The bondage, verse 21, of corruption.
One of the most plain examples of this is in physics, in the second law of thermodynamics, which is entropy, that in an isolated system, energy is lost over time, that things don't stay in their constant state, but they deteriorate, they degenerate over time. We experience that daily, daily.
We look in the mirror, entropy. It's happening all around us. Second law of thermodynamics. It's in action. We are now subjected to futility, verse 23. "And not only they, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."
So we have been given a foretaste, what he calls here the first fruits, a foretaste. That's how the New Living Translation I think puts it, a foretaste, a preview of coming attractions. All I can say is I still remember and I still experience what it was like to come into a relationship with Christ.
It was real. It was transformative. It was awesome. It's all I could think about. And the Holy Spirit did that. He was giving me a foretaste of what heaven is going to be like.
Now I see through a glass darkly, but I've tasted it. And one of the reasons I keep going, why I am motivated to keep going is because, man, I've tasted it. I know what it tastes like.
So I grew up on Hamburger Helper. My mom loved that because you could just whip it up really quickly. You know, it's in a box. And so I pretty much lived off of that for years.
But then I remember when my parents took me to dinner, and I had steak and lobster. Do you know how hard it was to go back and eat Hamburger Helper? Because I've tasted something different.
So if somebody says, you know, heaven is all the steak and lobster you can eat. Really? Well, I know what that's like. I've tasted it. It's so awesome. I'm not saying it is. But you're going, it's not? No, I hope you're not doing that.
But anyway, so we have a taste. We've been given the first fruits of the Spirit. Think of it this way, first fruits. Remember the 12 spies who were sent into the land of Canaan, and they got fruit of the land, the big huge bunch of grapes that a couple of guys carried between their shoulders.
They brought it back to the camp of Israel and said, this is the land flowing with milk and honey. We've tasted it, and here's the first fruits. Well, that means when we get into the land that's, what we're going to have. We're going to eat that stuff. We're going to enjoy that stuff.
So what the Holy Spirit does in the life of the believer, in that experience initially and in an ongoing way, is lets us give a foretaste of what heaven is going to be like. We've tasted it. Now we're waiting for the full adoption.
So it says, verse 23, "We ourselves groan, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." In other words, we've been adopted into the family, but the full reward of the adoption is a whole new body, a resurrected body. That's the idea of verse 11. "He will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."
Remember how Paul in 2 Corinthians 5 described death. He said, "If our earthly bodies, these tents, our earthly tent, these bodies, are destroyed, we have a building from God made without hands eternal in the heavens." And right after that, he said, "We groan for that."
We've tasted and now we are groaning for the full adoption the transformation even of our physical body because he has put eternity in our hearts. So verse 24, "For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For why does one still hope for what he sees?" If it's been given to you, and you see it, you don't have to hope for it. It's yours.
"But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise, this Spirit also helps our weaknesses for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings, which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because he makes intercession for the Saints according to the will of God."
So far in what we have read, there are three groanings. Did you notice them? Creation groans. Creation is waiting for the curse to be lifted. We groan. Believers groan and more so as we get older, especially when we're promised a brand new body.
You get up in the morning, [GROANING], all day long for some of us. We groan. We long for, we hope for. And now we have the Holy Spirit groaning. I just want you to notice all those groaning, Paul kind of repeats that theme, and he says, "The Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings, which cannot be uttered."
What does that mean exactly? Well, I'm looking at the time, and I'm going to just give you a little bit of a shot at this and see how far I get. Number one, it could refer to the Holy Spirit's groanings. That's how some interpret it, that the Holy Spirit makes some form of inarticulate groan, inner Trinitarian communication. It's the Holy Spirit communicating to the Father, the Son.
We don't know what we should pray for as we are to. God certainly knows what we need. So we might pray, but the Holy Spirit will interpret that correctly, according to the will of God. So here's an example.
Paul said, "I prayed three times that I might have my thorn in the flesh taken away." Remember that 2 Corinthians chapter 12 passage? I've got a thorn in the flesh. It's a messenger. Satan always buffets me. I prayed for that three times. He didn't get what he prayed for.
Finally, he said the Lord told me my grace is enough for you. I'm going to give you the ability to handle the thorn in the flesh. You're going to get perseverance. You're going to get patience. You're going to get endurance.
So Paul is saying, Lord, I pray for the removal of the thorn in the flesh. The Holy Spirit says to the Father, ignore what Paul just prayed, Father. Don't deliver him from the thorn. Give him the ability to trust you so that he won't depend on himself.
I remember when I prayed for a new car as a kid or a car. Now, I was thinking completely different from what I got. I was a new believer. I prayed. I was saving up. I had something in mind. What I ended up getting for $47 from my brother was a car, which second gear did not work in. It had first, third, and reverse.
It was bondoed, so it was just kind of beat up, and spray painted, and bondoed. And it was an eyesore. It was the neighborhood eyesore. But it did get me around. And it was a lesson in humility. Lord, I'm praying for that. I would never pray for a Pinto. I might have prayed for like a Camaro or a Mustang, and God said, no. Holy Spirit said, Father, give him that old gray beater that his brother has. That's perfect for Skip's first car.
It could mean that. It could mean that it's the Holy Spirit's groaning to the Father. That's one possibility. Here's another possibility. It could be my groaning.
The New English Bible translates it with that in mind. It says, "Through our inarticulate groans." He could be referring possibly to what Paul will mention in Corinthians when he talks about praying in the Spirit, what we would call the gift of tongues, that part of that is that our language is a direct link, our prayer language, our ability to communicate directly from our Spirit to God's Spirit.
So you know that language is a pact, right? It's an agreement. It's a covenant. The covenant that you and I share together is called English. There are other languages, of course, but you and I, we don't have that agreement. We don't have that pact, that covenant.
But if we did. We could do this in a multilingual way. We could do all sorts of different languages. I suppose heaven will be that way. But we have a very narrow pact.
If in English, I were to say the word low, it means the opposite of high. But if you're a Hebrew speaker, and I say the word low, it means the opposite of yes. Yes in Hebrew is ken. No in Hebrew is low. It's because it's a different pact.
So if I say low to you, you go down there. If I say to a Hebrew, low, they're going like, no, why? Different pact, different covenant, different understanding. So let's say I have an understanding with you, a code, we're going to come up with our own language. So I'm going to see you after church, and I'm going to say, uzza wuzza, jazza wazza.
And when I say, uzza wuzza, jazza wazza to you, that will mean let's go and find a restaurant and sit down and have a meal. Nobody else will know that. So I say uzza wuzza, jazza wazza, and then your response will be, surfus murfus calorex flex, which means the governor hasn't allowed restaurants to be open, so just throw that out the window. But when it does open, we'll go, but you're buying. It means all that.
So nobody knows it means that. So I say uzza wuzza, jazza wazza. Surfus murfus calorex flex. Now, we come up with a whole different way of communication. Nobody gets it, but we do, right?
Do you know that, in the Spirit, you and I are afforded a way to communicate to God that bypasses our intellect? This is one of the reasons people don't like praying in the Spirit because they don't understand it. Paul said, "My understanding is unfruitful when I pray in tongues," pray in the Spirit. I can't understand it. Nobody can understand, unless there's a gift of interpretation.
But it's a means by which your Spirit can directly communicate according to the will of God. Amazing, huh? So it could mean the Holy Spirit will interpret it, or it could mean we, through that pact, that spiritual prayer language, called the gift of tongues, is how the Holy Spirit does the groaning. So we have a couple of different interpretations.
But it says, verse 27, "He searches the hearts, knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the Saints according to the will of God." And verse 28 is just so rich. It's one of your favorite verses.
That if I were just to go over it and close the chapter, which even I couldn't-- I'm over time as it is-- it would do injustice to it. So I didn't make it through chapter 8. But nice try. We took a stab at it. And we know that the problem is me. So we've learned a lot. We learned a lot in this session.
Father, thank you for these incredible truths that Paul so brilliantly, by your Spirit, articulated to us. We know these experiences. We know the problem of I, I, me, me, my my. We know the struggle in the flesh, and we know that we are incapable of overcoming it.
But we also know that incredible truth of your Holy Spirit that is the down payment, that lets us give a foretaste of heaven when we were adopted into the family, that helps us even in our suffering, our trials because we have tasted glory. I pray you will strengthen your flock, strengthen your people, strengths them in the faith, encourage them, give them your joy, bring them your peace. May they live in it throughout the rest of this week. In Jesus' name, amen.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us from this teaching in our series Expound.